green jobs

Obama’s Green Albatross

by William Yeatman on November 15, 2011

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Stimulus spending on environmentalist policy is a green albatross around the neck of President Barack Obama. Inspectors General are having a field day auditing stimulus-funded programs for so-called “green jobs,” and the media LOVES stories about wasted taxpayer money. What started as a sop to his environmentalist base, now threatens to become a slow-drip nightmare of negative press. The timing couldn’t be worse for the President. It takes time to disburse scores of billions of dollars, so we are only now starting to scrutinize stimulus spending. By November 2012, we’ll be able to account for most of the money, and unless the current trend changes radically, the Executive in Chief is going to look conspicuously incompetent.

Here’s the back-story: In early 2009, the Executive and Legislative branches of government had a popular mandate to defibrillate America’s moribund economy with a huge injection of taxpayer dollars. Instead of limiting this “stimulus” to state bailouts and infrastructure spending, the Obama administration (led by climate “czar” and former EPA administrator Carol Browner) and the Congressional majority (led by House Energy and Commerce Chair Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills)) also sought to advance environmentalist policy.  As a result, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a.k.a. the stimulus, included almost $70 billion in spending for green jobs and renewable energy infrastructure.

Every single link along the green energy supply chain was showered with subsidies. There was funding for green jobs training, funding for factories to make green products, and funding to incentivize demand for green goods and services. It was as like a green Gosplan!

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The Green Jobs Fumble

by Brian McGraw on August 19, 2011

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Coming out of The New York Times of all places, “Number of Green Jobs Fails to Live Up to Promises.” Unsurprisingly, it has the green groups riled up.

A study released in July by the non-partisan Brookings Institution found clean-technology jobs accounted for just 2 percent of employment nationwide and only slightly more — 2.2 percent — in Silicon Valley. Rather than adding jobs, the study found, the sector actually lost 492 positions from 2003 to 2010 in the South Bay, where the unemployment rate in June was 10.5 percent.

Federal and state efforts to stimulate creation of green jobs have largely failed, government records show. Two years after it was awarded $186 million in federal stimulus money to weatherize drafty homes, California has spent only a little over half that sum and has so far created the equivalent of just 538 full-time jobs in the last quarter, according to the State Department of Community Services and Development.

The weatherization program was initially delayed for seven months while the federal Department of Labor determined prevailing wage standards for the industry. Even after that issue was resolved, the program never really caught on as homeowners balked at the upfront costs.

(Note that it took seven months, as in 210 days or almost 60% of a year, to figure out wage standards for an industry. Good enough for government work.)

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In a front page story today, the Washington Post – of all places! – revealed that unemployment for so-called “green jobs” is pretty darn high.  (See Retrained for green jobs, but still waiting on work by Michael A. Fletcher).  You mean, all the Obama and enviro promises about green jobs being the next, great economic boom were…wrong?  People aren’t voluntarily choosing to pay more for “clean energy”?

Who could have guessed that the Great Green Dream has been “undercut by the simple economic fact that fossil fuels remain cheaper than renewables”?

So, the Obama administration shoveled out $90 billion out of the $814 billion economic stimulus bill for clean energy stuff, like weatherizing public buildings, constructing “advanced” (?) battery plants in the Midwest, financing solar electric plants in the Mojave desert, and training green energy workers.

But the huge federal investment has run headlong into the stubborn reality that the market for renewable energy products – and workers – remains in its infancy.

Well, that can’t be good, all those 90 billion smackeroos just blown on nothing.  So, surely the next step is to pull the plug on this economy-busting boondoggle force people to buy green energy stuff.

Both Obama administration officials and green energy executives say that the business needs not just government incentives, but also rules and regulations that force people and business to turn to renewable energy.

Without government mandates dictating how much renewable energy utilities must use to generate electricity, or placing a price on the polluting carbon emitted by fossil fuels, they say, green energy cannot begin to reach its job creation potential.

I mean, just look at the potential here.  The poor guy profiled in the WaPo story was trained in: solar installation,sustainable landscape design, recycling and green demolition (which has something to do with dismantling buildings, rather than demolishing them).  What if we could just force everyone to dip into their pockets to buy expensive solar stuff, contemplate how sustainable their landscape design could be, and pull apart buildings brick by brick!

With some 7.5 million jobs lost from the US economy since December 2007, it’s astounding to realize there’s a movement afoot to force people to spend money on the green equivalent of ditch-digging make-work.

Richard Morrison and Marc Scribner welcome special guest Christopher C. Horner to Episode 96 of the LibertyWeek podcast, where we discuss his latest book, Power Grab: How Obama’s Green Policies Will Steal Your Freedom and Bankrupt America (segment starts approximately 4:50 in).

After 7 months of negotiations, Senators John Kerry and Joseph Lieberman last week unveiled a major climate bill to a chorus of…silence. On the day after the rollout, the American Power Act failed to make the front page of a single paper with a national scope. The Sunday political talkies also ignored the bill. I didn’t hear a single mention of the American Power Act on Fox News Sunday, ABC’s This Week, NBC’s Meet the Press, the McLaughlin Group, or the Chris Matthews Show.

What gives? The mainstream media LOVES global warming as an issue, because it’s divisive and it’s yellow. So why would they ignore it? The only explanation I can think of is that the media believes the bill is dead. My only evidence is anecdotal. Last Thursday I did a taped interview with a very pro-cap-and-trade reporter from Al Jezeera, and the first thing out of his mouth was, “So this bill is dead, right?” I’m not so sanguine, because I once thought the same thing about health care “reform.” Nonetheless, the media’s evident apathy is curious.

Richard Morrison, Jeremy Lott, and Jerry Brito bring you Episode 90 of the LibertyWeek podcast. This week we take a look at Robert Bryce’s work on the myths of green energy. Segment starts approximately 10:25 in.

I’ve blogged before on the LA Times’s one sided coverage of AB 32, California’s first-in-the-nation climate change mitigation law. In a nutshell, the LA Times is a big cheerleader for the legislation, with a record of publishing favorable stories and ignoring negative ones.

Case in point: Today, the Times ran an opinion piece, “A Green Jobs Generator,” by two economists who claim that their economic analysis of AB 32 is being distorted by opponents of the legislation. The LA Times allowed them the space to set the record straight, and thus its editorial page again reassured readers that “doing something” about climate change will be easy because it will reduce energy costs and create “green jobs.”  Of course, this is baloney-in fact, “doing something” about climate change will make energy more expensive and thereby kill jobs-but the LA Times has an agenda to push, so why sweat the details.

Also today, E&E ClimateWire broke the news that Larry Goulder, the lead author of a recent AB 32 economic analysis commissioned by the state, is on the board of directors of a non-profit that has given money to a political campaign to defeat a ballot initiative that would suspend AB 32. So it’s not surprising that he concluded that AB 32 would create jobs. Naturally, the LA Times covered Goulder’s favorable economic analysis when it was released a few weeks ago. But it has yet to report on his association with a pro-AB 32 political organization. Perhaps it will tomorrow, but I doubt it.

Goulder told ClimateWire that nothing is amiss, but it sure seems like a conflict of interest to me. If an Exxon staffer punched up an economic report suggesting that AB 32 would harm California’s economy, environmentalists would throw a hissy-fit. And the LA Times, no doubt, would try to discredit the report as “industry funded.”

To listen to Democratic Party leadership tell it, one would never know that a cap-and-trade has anything to do with global warming.

For example, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) pitched the American Clean Energy and Security Act, a cap-and-trade energy rationing scheme that narrowly passed in the House, as a “vote for jobs,” rather than as a vote for global warming mitigation. Of course, this is malarkey-government only “creates” green jobs by destroying many more jobs in other, less politically favored economic sectors.

Now Democratic leaders in the Senate are saying that cap-and-trade is all about national security. Senator John Kerry (D-Massachusetts), in particular, has been pushing the thesis that climate change is going to cause conflict over scarce natural resource, drought-induced famine, and massive population flows. Kerry’s idea is to give political cover to moderate democrats otherwise loath to vote for an energy tax-moderates tend to represent Americans who are concerned with national security, but skeptical of global warming alarmism. By framing climate change as a threat to national security, these moderates might escape the adverse political consequences of voting for a cap-and-trade scheme.

That’s a risky bet for moderates, because Kerry’s national security argument is bogus. To learn why, read this excellent blog post by my colleague Marlo Lewis. Kerry’s claims are also refuted Christopher Monckton at the Science & Public Policy Institute, available here.